All feelings are mutual


Been finding seaglass in my pocket

For the last several weeks, I have been plagued with a question.

The following refrain has been playing over and over in my head. All feelings are mutual. All feelings are mutual. All feelings are mutual.

I can feel the truth of it in my bones.

And yet, I can’t figure out what it means. Why is this message is coming to me now? Why does it feel so important to wrap my head around it?

And so I did something really smart -I reached out to one of the wise teachers in my world and asked. What the heck does “all feelings are mutual” mean? Turns out she was exactly the right person to ask.

Here is Karen Maezen Miller’s beautiful response below:

Dear Andrea:
How nice to hear from you. You approach me with gratitude for my words, and I respond to you with equal gratitude. That’s what it means. We all know what this means by our own experience:

If I am cranky, the world reflects my crankiness.
If I am angry, the world returns my anger.
If I am critical, the world returns my small-mindedness.
If I am non-judgmental, the world accepts me.
If I smile, someone smiles back.

And so on.

We see and receive whatever we project.

And just so we don’t feel as if we are carrying the blame for all the negativity, just observe and respect that everyone is suffering. That’s what we share most of all!

This is not a philosophy. It really works like this.

But we have to see it for ourselves and take responsibility for ourselves. If we are the least bit aware, we will be careful with what we give to the world. It will always return to us, because of the physical reality of the universe. Although it looks like we are separate, we are not. We share everything; we are like waves in an ocean. If an ocean is poisoned, every wave carries the poison, no?

I have read her message over and over to myself. I have read it out loud to a friend and to nobody in particular. And I’m just now beginning to understand it in a deep way. It feels as if spirit has been smiling down on me, whispering in my ear, and then leading me to the perfect interpreter.

With her permission, I wanted to share it with you. Does it resonate for you as well?

Thank you Karen for your generosity + wisdom. A thousand times thank you…




  1. Lara
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    What this means to me: I feel like the luckiest, most beloved person in the world. And I realize that what’s happening is that I am receiving a lifetime of love that I have bestowed on others. It’s making me more tender. It’s shaking my bones. It’s making me the most grateful person alive. And, in turn, it’s making me return to others from a place of fullness, gratitude, and love. Plus joy.

  2. simone
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    This is amazing. Thank you!

  3. Kathleen
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    “We see and receive what whatever we project” Yes, and I know this, have learned this but still slip sometimes. Yesterday the one person who gets under my skin was on a roll and I thought about how it might feel to punch her in the face. (really, I’m not a violent person) Later that night I pulled something out of an upper cabinet in the kitchen and a can fell out onto my nose. I cried and my nose bled from the impact. So I begin again. Compassion, love & non-judgment feel a lot better.

  4. Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    two of my favorite wise teachers – you & Karen. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jenny
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Again, your words and experiences remind me to keep seeking my truth and self-love. Thank you.

  6. Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    I learn this again and again and again. When I remember. And when I forget. Someday, I hope I know it in my bones.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  7. Deirdre
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    And then I wonder, why do I see the same thing everywhere I look? Now I begin to understand, it is because I am looking at them with the same eyes.
    This most of all I want to carry with me “we will be careful with what we give the world.” Too much lately I have given only frustration and impatience. I so want a world of peace and compassion, and Karen’s world have given me a new perspective on that old song “let it begin with me.”

  8. Posted December 11, 2013 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    This is gorgeous, and so reassuring. Thank you for this, Andrea and Karen both. I’m especially appreciative of how Karen included a special reminder to keep in mind that everyone is suffering. It’s so easy to blame ourselves for the negative if we forget that.

  9. Marina
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    thank you so much Andrea and Karen for this marvellous gift. it is so beautifully written it speaks to me more deeply than at other times. and I know it is true.

  10. arabella
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Yes! I think so much about this. I have a quote (below) written in a book and think about it often – particularly as the mother of small kids (!)

    I try to read it regularly and absorb’s a different version of the same, ages old idea and deep universal truth. Thank you for a new words to put to this idea.

    “I have come to the (frightening) conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” (Goethe)

  11. Posted December 12, 2013 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Love this. Such a great reminder. I remembered it today when I was struggling with something…and I then knew at least 7 others in the same boat. It was interesting that even though I knew there were 7 others, I wanted to deny that fact. Then, I got over myself and sent each one of them some love. And with that, I felt love again. P.S. Thanks for the Goethe Arabella!

  12. Meg
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Andrea, this post couldn’t have come at a better time…I was just mentioning to a colleague and friend the other day that we all are suffering and the person causing us the most discord must be suffering terribly. We are struggling with someone at work. Sometimes it is so hard finding compassion for the ones who are suffering, who at first seem to be causing our sadness or bad feelings, even though I know that I get to decide how I feel. Well, I got out Alexandra Franzen’s book and wrote an “awesome” note to this person and I felt so much better. I still think I need write many more, but it is a start. It can’t more true: what we put out there comes right back to us. Thank you.

  13. Posted December 12, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you Andrea. Thank you Karen. Wise women. Wise words. Thank you.

  14. Posted December 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow, just Wow! This week I have been floored by the strange group dynamics on the Board where I serve. This has me thinking a lot about how to handle the situation, a situation where I want to lead with compassion and kindness. You’ve shared something that I think will help sort through all the jumbled thoughts in my head. Thank you!

  15. Posted December 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    As I reflect on Karen’s words, I just keep feeling mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  16. Monique
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes, very much. I know so many people who would benefit from reading these words. Thank you!

  17. isavoyage
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes, and YES! And i SO needed to read exactly THIS right now. Thank you for sharing your questions and your answer Andrea, for the 1000th time :).

  18. Posted December 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely agree!!

6 Trackbacks

  1. […] All Feelings Are Mutual. I’m so glad that Andrea shared this bit of wisdom from Karen Maezen Miller. […]

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  5. By Grace II All Feelings Are Mutual | Just Lara on December 28, 2013 at 4:43 am

    […] When I was 30 I met a man who was a felon convicted of violent drug-related crimes, fresh out of San Quentin. I was teaching a class at a half-way house, and he was my student. He was also who I envisioned would be a strong protector of a man, with whom I could have children. That was 15 years ago, and while our relationship was not meant to be, there is no one I would trust more to protect my precious children as their father. (And not only is he now a Prius-driving-thriving-business-owner who makes sure he always has tumeric root for green smoothies, he’s about to start teaching spin classes at our local gym. And when he does, I will be his most loyal student, our story coming full circle.) And – though a more unlikely pair you never would find – I now have those children I am convinced needed to be born. (If you know them, you know what I’m talking about; it’s almost like they glow, and they say things that make me think they’ve done this before.) And now, slipping out of these relationships gave me fresh eyes. How have I been so lucky? I wondered. How have I come to be so blessed? I called my dear friend Andrea Scher for a porridge date. I can feel something big happening to me, I told her. I don’t know what it is. But I can feel something amazing coming. And it also feels a little bit like I’m losing my mind… Let me read something to you, she said. And then she told me that she had come upon the phrase “All feelings are mutual”  and she had not been able to get it out of her head. It had resonated with her deeply, but she hadn’t known what it meant. Fortunately, she’s connected, so she asked her friend, the wise Buddhist priest Karen Maezen Miller if she knew what it meant. And she did. Andrea read Karen’s email to me (and published it here): […]

  6. By Grace II All Feelings Are Mutual | Just Lara on December 28, 2013 at 6:01 am

    […] Fortunately, she’s connected, so she asked her friend, the wise Buddhist priest Karen Maezen Miller if she knew what it meant. And she did. Andrea read Karen’s email to me (and published it here): […]

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